Editorial: Roadhouse closures a serious concern

McKinlay roadhouse closed this week.
McKinlay roadhouse closed this week.

Travellers through our vast region got some back news this week.

A few months ago we foreshadowed the likely closure of the roadhouse at McKinlay township which in July was only a rumour.

Unfortunately it proved true and the roadhouse officially closed its doors this week.

The small shop attached to United Petroleum has shut as the station moves to an automated system. 

It follows on the closure of the BP Winton and there remains strong doubts about the long-term future of the the Kynuna roadhouse, the only surviving roadhouse in the 400km lonely stretch of the Landsborough highway leading into Cloncurry.

As a regular traveller of our vast region – and someone who has used the facilities of all three of the roadhouse I’ve named above – this will affect me on a personal level.

More importantly it affects the local and travelling communities who will no longer have vital facilities.

Locals in McKinlay will have to travel 100km to Cloncurry for milk and bread while truckies will also be badly affected.

And if your card doesn’t work in the unmanned facility – which apparently has already happened in McKinlay – then bad luck – you’ll just have to wait until someone comes to fix the problem.

The BP Winton closure is possibly even a bigger deal for a town that is reliant on tourism traffic though locals hope it will re-open.

Winton mayor Gavin Baskett understood water had entered the unleaded petrol tanks during a 2016 rain event, meaning there had been no ULP sales since then.

He was confident the problem would be rectified, following council approval of development plans submitted by the owners.

“Hopefully that’s going to happen over the next six months and the business will reopen,” he said. “It’s not ideal for truckies, happening at the same time as McKinlay shutting.”

Winton has two other fuel outlets for the public, although neither can accommodate triple road trains.

The closures – similar to the closure of banks in small towns – show big private business can not be trusted to keep our rural towns alive – Derek Barry